Someone tells you some great news – a promotion or a new job – and you know you should be happy for them, and you are, but you also kind of have a lump in your stomach. You know they worked hard, and that’s what they deserve, but somewhere in your mind, a little voice says, “Why does good stuff always happen for them? When will it be my turn?”
You go to see someone’s new house, and it’s beautiful, it’s big, and it has a pool. And suddenly your house, which was always sufficient before, seems less lovely. You know this house was the result of several years of painstaking work and a lot of investment, but still you find yourself thinking, “Why can’t I have a house like that?”
Someone puts a post on social media about something they’ve done or something new they are going to start doing – maybe a holiday, or a hobby – and you think, “I could have done that.” Or “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Or maybe, “Why aren’t I doing that?”
I know that these feelings are stupid and pointless. After all, if I wanted a promotion, I could work harder and cultivate more connections and devote my energies to achieving that. If I wanted a bigger house, I could save money and move, or I could invest into the house I have to make it better. And you know, there are plenty of classes and yoga retreats and holidays for everyone – just because someone I know has done it doesn’t mean it’s all used up and there is nothing left for me. And they are probably not going to mock me in a schoolyard manner saying, “You’re just copying me.” Because one person’s good news doesn’t mean that all the promotions, all the houses, and all the experiences are used up.
It just means that someone else got off their butt and did something and I didn’t. And it doesn’t matter that what they did wasn’t even on my radar as something I wanted to do until I saw they’d done it. They did something great, and I’m feeling like some temper tantrum stroppy four-year-old screaming “But I want an ice cream too!”
But I’m not four years old anymore. No one is going to give me an ice cream (or a bigger house, or a better job) to stop me crying. If I want that ice cream, I have to get up off my whingy butt and walk to the shop myself and pay for that ice cream with my own money.
I had a bit of revelation the other day, when I saw a social media post that said, What if jealousy is just a signal point to what you really want in life? When you see someone do something and you feel a spike of jealousy, that’s a cue to your dreams, a signal of something you want in your life.
What if you can take something that is negative, like jealousy, and turn it into something positive, like energy and ambition?
What if you analyse where that feeling of jealousy is coming from: what it is about what the other person has that sparked this feeling? What did that make you realise was missing in your life?
Promotion? I am jealous because that person has recognition from another team that the work they do is good. I am jealous because they get to go work on something different. I’m not actually jealous about a higher job title and pay rise. That’s not what motivates me. It’s recognition for a good job done, and learning new things that triggers me.
New house? I am jealous of the lifestyle this represents. A commitment to greener living, to recycling, to re-using. The creative vision to restore a house to your specifications, so that you feel the house represents who you are 100%. The financial freedom that allows you to have a second home with a big garden and a pool. The feeling of welcome and security and beauty you get when visiting this house. I don’t actually want a bigger house. I would like to have the confidence in my creative vision to build something amazing that reflects who I am instead of second guessing myself all the time.
Study? Holiday? Hobby? I am jealous of them knowing what they want to do and going ahead and doing it. I am jealous of them investing in themselves, taking care of their body, fulfilling their dreams. I don’t particularly want to learn pottery, go on a yoga retreat, or take up the flute. But I want to learn and grown and develop new skills. So why am I not doing these things?
I need to get over this envy feeling – this negative feeling that because you have it, I can’t have it.
I need to use my jealousy feeling more constructively and analyse these feelings when they pop up. The first clue is I’m not jealous at the acquisition of things – a big title, a big house, a designer handbag – none of these will bring me happiness. I haven’t bought into that status game. I need to use jealousy as a marker for my dreams – guiding me towards what I want, like a buoy or a lighthouse, or a trail marker in the forest.